Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colors: Chris O’Halloran
Letters: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Release Date: August 23rd, 2023
The Ice Cream Man series is a modern day version of “The Twilight Zone”, with macabre stories, all of them thought-provoking. Ice Cream Man #36 is another great tale, this time focusing on a sailor named Winslow who lost his daughter when she was swallowed whole by a whale. Winslow becomes obsessed with finding the whale, convinced his daughter is still alive, but he’s not prepared for what he finds at the end of his journey.
I’m a huge fan of writer W. Maxwell Prince’s work on this book and the Swan Songs series. Like a modern O. Henry, Shirley Jackson and Rod Serling, he crafts a seemingly endless variety of one-shot stories that explore the darkest recesses of the imagination. In Ice Cream Man #36, we get a variation on Herman Melville’s “Moby-Dick”, as a sailor named Winslow becomes obsessed with finding the whale that swallowed his daughter. Where “Moby-Dick” is a story about vengeance, with Captain Ahab determined to get even with the whale that took his leg, Ice Cream Man #36 is about loss and grief. Winslow can’t accept that his daughter is gone, so instead of moving on without her, he lets his grief consume him.
The first few pages of the book show Winslow preparing for his trip back out on the ocean. The villagers around him treat him in various ways. Some show him sympathy and charity, others just glare at him terrified, as if he’s a wandering madman who could attack them at any instant. But Winslow’s so dead inside, nothing matters to him except getting back out on the ocean. I won’t say what happens when Winslow inevitably encounters the whale. Suffice it to say the tale takes a sharp turn into the bizarre and otherworldly, and you’ll never be able to predict in a thousand years what happens.
Ultimately, the story is painfully bittersweet and about the “What ifs”. Anyone who has ever lost someone close to them, a beloved family member or a dear friend, has had “What if” run through their mind a million times. “What if I had treated them differently?”. “What if I had visited them more?”. Such is the message of this beautiful chilling tale, that we should value the people we love more when they are alive, rather than have endless regrets when they’re gone.
Martin Morazzo’s art and Chris O’Halloran’s colors on Ice Cream Man #36 perfectly capture the gothic mood of the story. The art is reminiscent of illustrations you would find in an old Edgar Allen Poe or Tolkien book, having a classic horror feel. It’s beautiful work that enhances the great writing.
Ice Cream Man #36 is another magnificent issue, a bittersweet dark fantasy tale that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it. Highly recommended.